“What is the difference between stealing a work and inspiration?”
Mohamed-76 asked on Quora
Substantial similarity is the term used in the United States copyright law to determine if a creative work is infringing. The court’s mindset can be used as a helpful creative framework.
The decision rides on whether the resulting work can only result from pure copying and not coincidence. When making the distinction between copying and inspiration, the individuals within a court use many factors such as:
Uniqueness, intricacy, or complexity. Make sure that your work include it’s own voice and structure. Include your own experiences. Draw from many ideas that you’ve encountered instead of just one. Create a complex string and have knowledge about the reasons for why your work is the way it is
An unexpected element. What addition can you impose? Remove an element that can deleted in a surprising way.
Mistakes in both works. Direct copying from a source can show mistakes. The copyist may not even understand the error. Without having an understanding of anatomy, for example. In a copy of another’s art, they may copy the other artist’s invention or error. Only take inspiration from elements you understand. Study from various sources and from life.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Pablo Picasso
Attempts at superficial differences. Making a copy while changing only colors or cropping is different from making a unique piece. Start from a base that is original to your piece. Make your piece mostly inventive. This is the fun part!
How to borrow creatively
When working with inspiration, try focusing on one aspect. If working with visual arts, you might look at only the color or only the composition. Think critically about what you really like about source material. You’ll fill in the blanks with other inspirations. Whatever thoughts you have collected over your lifetime will lead you to diverging paths than any other artist.
“Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources” C.E.M. Joad
Austin Kleon asks “Is it worth stealing?” in his book, “Steal Like An Artist”. Your choice of inspirations will be unique to you. If you love the design of Ikea furniture, antique houses, and country living… You’ll end up with a house that you love and that is custom made for you. Apply this idea to your artwork.
Getting used to feedback about your work takes some getting used to. With a lot of practice, you get used to putting yourself out there and hearing what others have to say about. Imagine the many tasks you do in your daily life that you would have no defensive response about. If a friend told you that orange is the best color. Sure, we all know that the answer is blue. Most of us wouldn't correct others about most things. Our defensive reaction is about us. Our feelings about ourselves. In 2014, Mallory Ortberg wrote an incredible hilarious piece of ... Read more
Let's discuss three notable stories currently in the news about creativity: 1. Taking care of basic survival needs aids in creativity Earth’s creatures test new ideas all of the time. This Scientific American article shows that survival helps and hinders creativity. One study discussed notes how the economically challenged find solving problems in new situations more difficult. Further studies of this effect show that financial help positively impacts cognitive performance. Meeting basic needs makes us all more able to take advantage of opportunities. 2. The best CEO’s want to be imaginative, innovative and flexible In a cross-industry and international survey, CEOs ... Read more
Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.